Apr 102013

Rangoli Making

From Wiki: Rangoli, also known as kolam, is a folk design art from India. Rangoli are decorative designs made on living room and courtyard floors during Hindu festivals typically consisting of bright colors. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities.The ancient symbols have been passed down through the ages, from each generation to the next, keeping both the art form and the tradition alive. The patterns are typically created with materials including colored rice, dry flour, (colored) sand or even flower petals. Similar practices are followed in different Indian states: in Tamil Nadu, there is Kolam; Mandana in Rajasthan; Chowkpurna in Northern India; Alpana in West Bengal; Aripana in Bihar; chowk pujan in Uttar Pradesh; and others.

They say “A thing of beauty is joy forever”, while it is true for a lot of things like the beautiful mountains and valleys, and forests created by almighty god, the opposite is also true. So many things in nature are so beautiful that we want to continuously look at their beauty e.g. a flower, but strange are the ways of Mother Nature. Most of the flowers in nature be it beautiful rose or cactus flowers, they do not last for more than a few days, and in a lot of cases for a few hours.

Making a Rangoli Design in India

Making A Rangoli

Colorful Floral Design of Rangoli

I think taking inspiration from Mother Nature, women in India started decorating their homes with Rangoli designs, as we have seen in my post on Pochampally Village. So when I was staying at a beach resort  in Pondicherry to attend a marriage I was very happy to see that 3 of the staff members Sonthi, Thelaga and Vellama were decorating different parts of the resorts with Rangolis made from Flowers and colors.  None of them could speak Hindi or English and I am totally zero in Tamil.  We communicated with sign language till a manager came and helped me. On learning that I wanted to click their pictures they kindly agreed shyly to let me click them working.

colors used in rangoli design

Colors Used For Rangoli Design

These Rangoli pattern designs were very different from the ones we have seen in Pochampally village, and were more floral and formal symmetrical designs. While the ones seen in Pochampally used flour, colors, flowers and also lentils and grains for making. The scene depicted in Pochampally was also from village life like kids, kites, sugarcane etc.  Here in the resort in Pondicherry the Rangoli designs were symmetrical floral designs with typically using only colors used in Holi. A few of them had a central hibiscus flower as central piece.

a hibiscus flower in center of a rangoli

A Hibiscus Flower As Center of Rangoli

But what amazed me was the speed and accuracy the three ladies worked, they were hardly talking to each other, in fact one of them was constantly on her cell phone. But their hands move in sync and while one of them will make the boundary the other one will fill colors, and they never even once had any kind of disconnect on the design or colors to be filled, as if they were talking telepathically.

a team of women making floral rangoli design in Pondicherry India

Team Work In Making Rangoli Designs

making rangoli design with colors

Rangoli Making

Once the designs were made I requested them to pose with one of the designs in front of the marriage stage.  As a lot of guests in the marriage were from Europe, US and Australia it was their first experience of A Rangoli and needless to say they were going gaga and doing oohs and aaah on looking at these beautiful Rangolis made by women who had learned making the Rangoli from their mother, who must have learned it from their mother and this tradition must have been going on for many centuries.

This is not even their main job as they work in the resort kitchen as kitchen help, but the love and dedication with which they created each of the Rangoli was really worth watching. I need to learn to take videos on my DSLR to better capture such moments. The big mama of all the Rangoli designs these ladies made was a 6 layer massive Rangoli in the banquet hall of the resort where the engagement ceremony took place. As with beautiful flowers that takes weeks to form from the little bud to the blossom, so does a Rangoli  take hours to make and depending on how soon somebody steps on it, their life is decided. After seeing the time, dedication and pain to make these beautiful work of Art my respect for the skills these women have increased many fold and I am pretty sure I will be very careful to not to step on these wonderful work of arts in future.

I hope this beautiful tradition continues for ages to come and we will keep on getting welcomed by such beautiful Rangolis wherever we go.

rangoli artists making rangoli designs

Vellamma, Sonthi, Thelaga the Rangoli Makers

A Floral Rangoli with Welcome written

Welcome for Guests with Rangoli

A 6 layer rangoli design masterpiece

A 6 Layer Rangoli Masterpiece 

More blog posts about Rangoli designs and ideas

  1. Rural ethnic Rangoli designs in Rural Telangana Pochampalli 
  2. Modern Rangoli Designs

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  12 Responses to “Making Rangoli Designs in India”

Comments (12)
  1. Really a work of art. If I accidently stepped on one, I’d feel terrible.
    I remember the Pochampalli rangoli post; oh yes, they are quite different from these designs.

  2. I’m reminded of my childhood when I used to participate in Rangoli competitions! Those are some superb rangolis! Thanks for sharing.

  3. They are so beautifully done.

  4. I am quite fond of Rangoli and that goes way back in my memory lane. My skills are however below average in this…and I remember how I made such an ass of self in a competition lolz…Good post

  5. Nice Post DT. I rememeberd my days when I used to make Rangoli with my Mom.

    Travel India

  6. You made my day. Just loved the bright colors in the photographs. Lovely Rangolis. Thanks for sharing.

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